Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The teacher bullied my daughter

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                                  

My daughter is a high-functioning girl with autism. She is a tall and pretty eleven-year- old girl. She goes to a public school because I believe special needs children need to learn how to deal with the “real world.”

We have moved a lot and the kids always bully “the new girl” even when they know she is challenged. I have been there when food was thrown at our backs.

I have been so angry that I have stormed into the schools and told them it is against the law to bully. The school principals try to placate me. They told me they have experience in dealing with this all the time.

I had one vice-principal tell me that it is a normal problem when the stronger kids pick on the weaker kids. He wouldn’t even use the word bullying.

Now a teacher bullied my daughter by telling her that she is pretty, but she’s still stupid. She gave my daughter a “D” on a story she wrote and read to the class because, “You are smart enough to read faster and make your reading more interesting to listen to.”

The teacher denied saying this but the other special needs kids repeated the same story as my daughter. However, the school district said they couldn’t use their testimonies because they were special needs kids!

We took her out of the school and started homeschooling her but she is so depressed. I don’t know what to do?

Teacher Bullied My Daughter

Dear Teacher Bullied My Daughter,

First off – bullying is not normal.

Secondly - girls who are attractive (special needs or not) are frequently bullied as a punishment from envious and insecure kids. Typically, special needs kids become sexually active early on as a way to gain attention and what they might mistake to be nurturing and love. Gently talk with her about this issue now before she makes any decisions concerning sex.

Children who move often are bullied just for being the new kid on the block. I know you must be aware that it is difficult for children with autism to make changes and adjustments even when staying in one place.

There’s no excuse for teachers who bully anyone, much less a special needs student.

The rest of the student and community population witnessing the teachers’ bullying behaviors will either acquire an increase of empathy or an increase in their own bullying towards special needs students. Either way, such teachers are to be held accountable and disqualified from teaching at any school – period.

If you have the means to hire a child advocate, it would the best answer for your daughter. A child advocate is trained to deal with the bureaucracy of the educational system and the legal system. A child advocate has resources for testing the child and getting the right therapy which can help her heal. They can also help with social skills by having her attend group therapy. A child advocate knows the schools in your area and will help you specifically.     

You might try initiating a unique approach at her school, modeled after one in Arizona, where children who are good leaders of civility mentor special needs children by walking them to classes, bringing them to sit with their group of friends during lunch, inviting them to social activities and following through with those invitations. Mentoring is always good for all involved.      

One suggestion we have for you, as a frustrated and concerned parent, is to not “storm” into offices and demand anything. Show your daughter that you are an advocate of civility, courage, and confidence by demonstrating your inspired positive solutions.

She will then learn to love and accept herself as exceptional and deserving of respect because of your good example!

Let us know how your affirmative and great solutions work out for all of you!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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